If you have noticed a few ants in the home then you most likely have many more that you just have not spotted. Ants live in very large colonies, where there are 4 or 5 walking along your windowsill, there are likely thousands or even hundreds of thousands in their nest. Getting rid of ants effectively means targeting not just those few you have spotted, but the larger nest too. Those few you spot are ones that are out looking for food to take back to the colony. If it is easy to find food in your home, they will build their nest around or even in or under your home.
Understanding an ant’s life cycle
When you better understand ants and their life cycle you can more successfully remove them for good. They live in large colonies and are important to the ecosystem in that they add nutrients to the soil. But the problem is they grow very quickly in nest size so a small ant colony that was not bothering you one day can quickly become an issue the next.
An ant colony has a queen, workers ants and then soldier ants. The queen is the boss and she lays the eggs. Worker ants look after the nest and the eggs and they go out to forage for food to bring back. The soldier ants are the ones who will defend the nest from any predators or threat. When they go out for food worker ants can travel large distances and create paths they and other ants can follow, they leave chemical secretions on their way. This is how they indicate to other ants that they have found a food source, and why you can go from one or two ants in your kitchen to a long line of them in just a short time.
When there is a good food source worker ant numbers go up. They take the food source in liquid form back and regurgitate it where it is stored and shared among workers and fed to the larvae. Different ant species will go for different types of food, some prefer meat or fats, some sweet foods like sugars or fruits. Knowing what ant type you have and what food they want can help you get rid of ants.
Recognising when you have an ant problem
Apart from seeing physical ants, there are other signs to watch for. You might see small piles of material at their entrance holes if you know where the nest is, there could be grit around doors, window frames and trim that includes wood fragments, dust and ant faecal pellets. When you are investigating how to get rid of ants in the house you should look at prevention as well. This means cleaning up all food, sweeping the floors and cleaning under appliances, stealing containers and the garbage and blocking obvious holes they use to access the home.
Home remedies for getting rid of ants
Here is a look at some of the home remedy options for your ant removal needs. Keep in mind that while some can be effective to a degree nothing can exterminate a pest like a pest control service.
- Soapy water – wash the trails they leave and where they have been with soapy water and the other ants cannot follow it back to your home. Another similar option is to mix glass cleaner spray with dish soap.
- Vinegar spray – another way to clear the chemical trail is with vinegar in a spray bottle. Leaving a light residue is fine as that discourages the ants from returning and prevents the ants from communicating.
- Cayenne or black pepper – as this is irritating you can leave it down around baseboards and along window ledges as a deterrent but take care if you have children or pets.
- Peppermint – it is a good repellent for ants and other insects put it in a spray bottle mixing 2 cups of water with 10 to 20 drops of peppermint oil.
- OLE (Oil of lemon eucalyptus) – coming from the gum eucalyptus tree it contains PMD which is a chemical used as a bio-pesticide. When you need to get rid of ants try this out.
- Tea tree oil – In a spray bottle mix 5 to 10 drops of the oil with 2 cups of water. As well as using it as a spray you can also soak cotton balls in the solution and place it in areas where you have seen ants. Not good to leave though if you have pets or small children.
- Boiled water – Boiling hot water can be poured into nests to kill the ants inside when you can see the colony. This is not successful if it is an especially large colony underground.
The best option for how to get rid of ants in the house
While these home remedies and store-bought options all can help lower the numbers of ants you see, dealing with any kind of pest you are always going to see the best results with a professional pest control business.